Once Greece comes to a head, there’s bound to be another issue just about to jump up and bite us on the asset class.
FUNDAMENTAL LACK OF RECOVERY
Covering the Baltic Dry Index – which measures the cost of shipping dry freight – last week I was surprised by the continued divergence between the recovery in commodities since 2009 and the complete lack of recovery in the index. Yes, there’s an over-supply of shipping, but does that tell the whole story? Remember, the index isn’t at the mercy of speculators like commodities. Maybe we should have an eye on what’s going on in terms of fundamentals?
INFLATION AND OIL BOTH CONCERNS
There are other issues lingering in the background and one issue got a lot of reaction on Twitter last week: Inflation, a big concern for many. In recent weeks we’ve had more quantitive easing, albeit in various guises – the Bank of Japan extended its asset purchase programme, the Bank of England added another £50bn to its efforts and the European Central Bank’s second three-year long-term refinancing operation (LTRO) is round the corner.
This may be doing the trick now, but there must surely be a longer term impact on inflation. Many of our viewers and Twitter friends are also concerned about oil and Iran.
Nymex is already up well over 30 per cent in the past four months or so as geo-political rhetoric continues to heat up. Analysts tell us there is a growing chance of an Iran-Israeli war.
If that happens, expect a mega-spike in the oil price, which could easily wipe out the nascent US recovery in one fell swoop.
In fact, is there even a recovery in the US? It seems a little convenient that the figures are improving as the country gears up for a presidential election. I fear we won’t know the real picture until 2013.
Speaking of elections, we have the Russian presidential vote in March, French elections starting in April and the Chinese party congress in October. A shift in the political landscape also poses its own risks.
And what about the rest of Europe? Even if Greece gets resolved there are still problems in Portugal. Ireland isn’t out of the woods.
Time to take the blinkers off.
Rebecca Meehan is an anchor at CNBC.